2016 研究助成 Research Grant Program  /  (A)共同研究助成  (A) Joint Research Grants
(Grant Number)
(Project Title)
富の再分配、収入格差 、社会的価値観 、福祉制度に対する国ごとの考え方に関する考察
Revisiting Cross-national Variations in Preference for Redistribution: Attitudes to inequalities, social beliefs, and welfare systems
Sébastien Lechevalier
Fondation France-Japon de l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)
(Grant Amount)
企画書・概要 (Abstract of Project Proposal)

    本プロジェクトでは、米欧に日本を加えた比較研究を行うことにより、過去の研究内容をさらに掘り下げる。具体的には、2009年の国際社会調査プログラム に基づいて、社会経済的要因と社会的価値観が日米欧の再分配に対する考え方にどのように影響しているのかを検証する。各種調査によれば 、ヨーロッパと米国の間では「収入格差が原因で不幸だと感じる度合い」と「富の再分配を求める度合い」において明白な違いが見られる。日本は米欧の中間に位置するが、その両者の関係に対する合理的説明はまだ明らかになっていない。本プロジェクトによりそれを明らかにし、本題に関するこれまでの研究を支える説明材料としたい。

    There are significant differences across countries in terms of redistribution by the government and they may correspond to underlying dissimilarities in preference for redistribution across the population of these countries. In particular, previous literature has compared the US and Europe from this viewpoint and proposed several explanations of these differences, from aggregation of individual determinants (e.g. one's income) to more holistic ones such as shared values at the national level. The purpose of this research project is to contribute to this literature by extending the comparison between Europe and the US in including the case of Japan. More precisely, by relying on the 2009 issue of the International Social Survey Program, our aim is to test whether a same set of socio-economic variables and social values have different impacts across the three regions. While there are clear differences between Europe and the US regarding both the level of unhappiness due to the level of inequalities and preference for redistribution, Japan stands in the middle. Moreover, the rationale underlying Japanese patterns regarding social values is still unclear and a purpose of this research project is to provide some explanations that make possible a generalization of previous literature on the topic.

実施報告書・概要 (Summary of Final Report)

Our project aimed at dealing with the issue of inequalities from an original perspective that may contribute to the emergence of new values for the society. The increase of inequalities during the last three last decades is now a robust stylized fact. The identification of its causes is more controversial. Although there may be universal mechanisms – such as the one identified by T. Piketty in his famous book – two facts show that there are others that are not universal: 1) the increase is not the same across countries; 2) its perception differs across countries and is paradoxical as it is the most important in Europe, although inequalities have increased the least. Our goal was to explain these two facts by reference to different values across three regions. They are certainly deeply rooted in different cultures. However, our initial hypothesis was that more than “culture” (which is rarely well defined by economists), social, economic and political history (and, in particular, the historical building of welfare systems) matters. If these values are partly historically determined, it means that they can change. In short, our purpose is to promote not a convergence between these three regions with so different backgrounds but rather the circulation of ideas through a fruitful dialogue that takes into account our differences. This is a key condition for the emergence of “new values for society” as it has been the case in the postwar period for the human rights.

In order to reach these objectives, we have conducted a joint research scheme with the following characteristics. We built an interdisciplinary and international team that mixed different generations, in order to ensure a good diffusion of knowledge. Our 2 years’ project has been composed of two steps. The first one has been a quantitative study from economic and sociological perspectives that mobilized various international surveys (e.g. World Values Survey; International Social Survey Program) in order to conduct international comparisons. The goal was to quantify the differences between the US, Europe (with a focus on France, but also comparative perspectives with other European countries such as the UK, Germany, Italy, Denmark or Sweden) and Japan in term of preferences for redistribution, social values, average determinants and differences across different socio-economic groups. The second step has been more qualitative and provided sociological and philosophical interpretations to the observed differences across countries. All members participated to the two steps in order to make possible dialogue between them.

The results and effects are of three orders. First, we have contributed to the literature on the preference for redistribution by revisiting cross-countries differences in going beyond a transatlantic perspective and in analyzing the differentiated impact of demographic-socio-economic factors and social beliefs across countries. A major result that emerged from this perspective is that analyzing the preference for redistribution requires to mobilize various indicators, as there is a high risk of confusion when one focuses on a single indicator. Second, we have contributed to the long term analysis of inequalities by including political economy analysis of social values and welfare systems that may explain the different trajectories. In doing so, we have connected two patterns regarding redistribution - facts and beliefs - in challenging the idea that there are only two worlds, across the Atlantic. We have defined the Japanese pattern, which does correspond nor to the American dream neither to the “European pessimism” (Benabou & Tirole, 2006). To put it simply, our result is that, in contemporary Japan, there is a very low expectation to improve one’s social position over the lifecycle and it dramatically affects the support for redistribution. Finally, our analysis has tried to explain the origin of different social values across the three regions, especially by analyzing the effect of welfare system constructions and of migration policies on social values. According to our results, the preference for redistribution is higher in Europe and in the US, relatively to Japan, where the preference for inclusive growth is much stronger.

Our project has three major tangible outcomes. First, we have published a set of 4 columns in the French newspaper Le Monde (25 March 2019). Second, we are engaged in the process of publishing a special issue of an academic journal. Third, we have widely diffused our research through our website (http://ffj.ehess.fr/). It concerns our papers but also the related events (workshops and major symposium organized in Paris on 2019, June 4th, with the participation of OECD and UNESCO representatives but also students, researchers, diplomats and business people). In doing so, we expect to have renew the discussion not only in academic circles but also in the society as a whole.

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